Candid Camera

New York born producer Allen Funt started Candid Microphone in 1947 as a series on ABC radio. The premise was pretty simple: Play tricks on people and record the fun with a hidden microphone. The radio show led quickly to a TV version and a series of film shorts, and soon it was all called Candid Camera. Funt and his merry band of tricksters appeared all over the TV dial throughout the fifties, either as a guest spot or a recurring segment on other shows like The Garry Moore Show or The Tonight Show. There was also a short-lived syndicated series.

But the franchise didn’t really take off until 1960 when CBS bought a weekly prime-time series that lasted until 1967. Funt co-hosted with Arthur Godfrey at first, then Durward Kirby and later, Bess Myerson. There were a couple of later syndicated versions but the tickets above are from the CBS run. You’ll notice that though they’re from the same month, they’re for different studios. That’s because Candid Camera was the wandering nomad of the CBS lineup. The network had several studios in Manhattan and Candid Camera would tape in whichever one wasn’t busy at the moment. They could do this because the set was so simple and all the show required was for two people to sit in chairs and talk.

I never cared much for “hidden camera” prank shows but that may be because Funt’s many imitators gave the premise a bad name. None of them ever did it as well.